Spain cel­e­brates hol­i­day dur­ing cri­sis

Some Cata­lans march against in­de­pen­dence

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - WORLD - By Ciaran Giles and Aritz Parra The As­so­ci­ated Press

MADRID — Thou­sands of Cata­lans who want their re­gion to re­main in Spain marked the coun­try’s na­tional day Thurs­day, march­ing through Barcelona waving both Spanish and Cata­lan flags and shout­ing “I am Spanish,” as the re­gion’s threats of in­de­pen­dence have left the coun­try in cri­sis.

Mean­while, in the na­tional cap­i­tal Madrid, troops and po­lice pa­raded in front of King Felipe VI, ac­com­pa­nied by na­tional and re­gional politi­cians. Thou­sands of peo­ple waving Spanish flags lined the side­walk of Madrid’s Paseo de la Castel­lana av­enue for the mil­i­tary pa­rade.

The pi­lot of a fighter jet tak­ing part in the Madrid pa­rade died when the plane crashed while land­ing at a base in Al­bacete, some 200 miles south­east of the Spanish cap­i­tal, au­thor­i­ties said.

In Barcelona, Cat­alo­nia’s cap­i­tal, a crowd of peo­ple that lo­cal po­lice said num­bered 65,000 marched to a cen­tral square, some with their faces in the red and yel­low colors of both the Spanish and Cata­lan flags and shout­ing “Viva Es­pana” — “Long live Spain.”

“We are now feel­ing that years of threats by sep­a­ratists have turned into an at­tempt to nor­mal­ize so­cial di­vi­sion,” said Juan Jose Garde, a 63-year-old re­tired civil ser­vant who was join­ing a na­tional day march for the first time af­ter years of en­joy­ing the hol­i­day by tak­ing his fam­ily to the beach.

For many oth­ers, Thurs­day’s march in cen­tral Barcelona was also a first. Montse Sanchez, a 56-yearold Cata­lan bank clerk, said she only felt the urge to protest when the sep­a­ratists’ bid re­cently be­came “an im­po­si­tion of thought.”

“They want to im­pose on us the ideas of one, but in Cat­alo­nia we are more than one, we are many peo­ple with very dif­fer­ent feel­ings to­ward na­tion­al­ity,” she said.

The slo­gan of the march was “Yes to Cat­alo­nia. Spain, too,” sup­port­ing Cata­lan au­ton­omy, but within Spain as a whole.

Two small groups of pro­test­ers clashed as the union­ists’ demon­stra­tion was get­ting un­der­way, throw­ing chairs and bot­tles taken from a cafe­te­ria ter­race at each other. An of­fi­cer was in­jured when lo­cal po­lice in­ter­vened to sep­a­rate them, Barcelona’s ur­ban guard said.

It was un­clear what sparked the vi­o­lence or who was in­volved, but the main demon­stra­tion led by civil so­ci­ety groups op­pos­ing the sep­a­ratist bid in Cat­alo­nia wasn’t dis­rupted.

Santi Pala­cios

Peo­ple wear­ing the colors of Cat­alo­nia and Spain cel­e­brate the coun­try’s na­tional day Thurs­day in Barcelona. The As­so­ci­ated Press

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